April 29th – Our Creativity Within
Our creative afternoon together was shaped by three lovely books which inspired us to consider the creativity we have within, our capacity for peacefulness and the joy in taking life at a gentle pace.
We reflected on how each one of us has creativity and goodness within, how our deepest self is full of light and delight. Each human being has a soul, a hidden place within us that makes us uniquely ourselves, a place where God dwells within us. We often go through our day forgetting about this truth. When we remember, we are able to be more at peace, more creative and calmer.
We talked about how we we can pay attention to our senses as a way of becoming calm and centered and remembering that we have an inner space with which we can connect. We each shared the sense that we most enjoy. Children made delightful remarks:
‘I love being under the water at the beach and coming up and feeling the wind on my face.’
‘I love the smell of rain and the feel of rain and also the sound of the rain.’
‘I love the smell of baking and then the taste.’
‘I love the feel of my pet dog.’
‘ I love the softness of my blanket and also the colours.’
‘I love the feel of the bark of the tree and hearing the birds in the branches.’
‘I am Peace’ (by Susan Verde & Peter H. Reynolds) is a meditation story. The words invite listeners to release their anxieties and get in touch with their inner space of peace and calm. There are suggestions that help us with this, such as noticing nature and trees, breathing slowly and gently, using our senses to help us stay in the here and now, trusting our kindness and sharing it with others.
We responded to this book by doing a 5 Senses Mindfulness exercise.
Children lay on the floor and closed their eyes. They listened to their breathing for a few moments until we were all settled and calm.
Children were then invited to recall their 5 senses slowly…
Then, with eyes open again, children were invited to name something that each of their senses could respond to:
What could they see from their relaxed position?
What could they smell as they took a deep breath?
What could they feel with their body and their hands?
What could they hear in the room and beyond?
Is there anything they can taste in their mouth or on the air?
In the wondrous ways of a child it was quite surprising what everyone could smell and taste!! Apparently mint, onion, chocolate and the ocean could be detected… along with the carpet, someone’s socks and the fresh air!
Children then decorated a small, calico bag to create a Senses Bag.
They collected items for their bags that they could use to stimulate each of their senses. We talked about how they could use this bag when they needed to feel more calm and settled, and how the things inside it would remind them of how to connect with their bodies, and enable themselves to be peaceful within.
Here are their Senses Bags. Each one holds lavender, bells, feathers, pebbles, pompoms, glass stones and other items that our senses can respond to…
Children’s ideas about when and where they would use their bags were thoughtful and beautiful:
‘When I am sad or cranky, I can hold all the things in bag.’
‘I am going to put the bag on my windowsill so that when the sun shines on it, I will be able to smell the lavender and it will make me wake up happier.’
‘When I am frustrated, my senses bag will help me to calm down.’
‘I want to use all the things when I am outside near my favourite tree.’
‘I will keep it near my bed so I can open it when I am in my room by myself or at night it will help me to sleep.’
‘The Art Garden’ (by Penny Harrison & Penelope Pratley) shows how there are many ways to be an artist. We recognise talented painters as artists but there are many other ways to be artistic including making a delightful, colourful garden. Children were invited to consider how they feel creative, when they feel artistic, what they like to use to express their ideas.
Our room was set up with lots of different materials and children were invited to create anything they liked with any materials they chose.
Here is how children expressed their creativity:
‘Slow Down World’ (by Tai Snaith) reminded us that life is not for rushing. As we slow down we are more able to notice what is beautiful and good. We are more able to be relaxed and unworried. When we look around us, breathe deeply, smell and taste slowly, feel what is around us…then we are able to be calm and at peace with ourselves.
April 8th – COLOUR
Today Kaleidoscope celebrated three years of existence – and we did so with the theme of COLOUR.
Afterall, part of our choice of name was a celebration of the colours that Kaleidoscopes make and the metaphor of all colours and all peoples making up our world.
We began by considering the beauty of all the colour in our world. Without even realising it at times, we are surrounded by the beauty of colour – imagine if we weren’t and the world was entirely grey? There are the vast expanses of colour like the blue of the sky and the green of grass and trees – but then there are all the small splashes of colour too – like the red flash of a parrot flying past, a bright flower or insect or the fun in having colourful clothes to wear.
Children shared their favourite colours and also their favourite colourful thing to see in an ordinary day:
Children like seeing birds in trees, bright flowers, white roses, rainbow tops, sunsets, autumn leaves, rainbows, the blue of the ocean, coloured glass, and paintings on school walls.
Some of these colourful ideas were captured with paintings:
The book ‘What Does the Sky Say?’ (by Nancy White Carlstrom & Tim Ladwig)
celebrates all the colours that the sky can be and how this colours the world we inhabit. It invites us to think of what the sky might be saying to us as we notice all the colours and attend to the beauty of this.
We also looked at the book ‘Patterns of Australia’ (by Bronwyn Bancroft) and talked about how we could do realistic patterns of colourful things or we could use pattern and shape for a more abstract style.
We went outside and noticed colours – we looked up and around and down. Then each child had a canvas and considered ways to represent our colourful world as an artwork. Children did many wonderful paintings. Here are just a few:
Our other art and craft activities throughout the afternoon were also a celebration of COLOUR. We decorated glass candle holders so that the flames would illuminate the colours:
We wove placemats for bedside tables or dining room tables:
We coloured suncatchers to hang in windows and make rainbows of light:
In our final Gathering Circle we read the book: ‘Colour Me’ (by Ezekiel Kwaymullina & Moira Court). Through inviting readers to imagine themselves the colour of different landscapes and creatures of the world, this book’s message is “We are all different, but together we colour our world amazing!”
We talked about how the variety of colours is sometimes used as a way to explain the variety of different people that live in our world – not just because we might have different colour skin, or eyes, or hair but because we have different ideas, interests and personalities. We are often friends with people who we have things in common with, people who are like us. But sometimes we are glad to also be friends with people who are different to us.
What a wonderful, colourful world we live in.
March 18th – Animal Wisdom
We always begin our time together with our Gathering Circle, seated on our mats and with children’s creative candle mats in front of them. As we light each candle, we pause to name the symbolism of light for this day’s gathering. Some children made a lovely triple mat…
Today, we remembered that in gathering together, and lighting our candles, we are always honouring the light within each of us and also the light of life that burns within every living thing.
Within every living thing there is the Divine spark; the energy and love of the Creator God.
We particularly acknowledged the creatures with whom we share our Earth; creatures who have lived here, growing and changing, since the beginning of time. We remembered the preciousness of animals in our world as part of the living ecosystem that God has made.
Our little ceramic bird is always passed around the circle and we take turns telling our name and something we would like to share with others. Today children were invited to tell of a living creature that is their favourite and why they like it, or to tell a story they have heard about animals.
Delightful comments were offered about children’s love of their friendly dogs, their soft, fluffy cats, or their favourite animals – from ocelots to groper fish, elephants to platypuses, and wolves, deer and dolphins.
When we acknowledge that animals are God’s creatures, just like us, then we recognise that we can learn something from them and remember that they need our care. When they are left in their natural habitats, animals know how to live well, how to live as they are designed to live. There is wisdom in this for us. We can also learn from the way Aboriginal people saw animals and humans as connected to the same living spirit. When we see creatures as special and important, we can feel a deeper connection to all living things beyond ourselves.
These beautifully illustrated ‘Creature Teacher’ cards (by Scott Alexander King) gave us the opportunity to consider the particular wisdom and attributes of different animals. We each chose one that appealed to us and shared our comments or read the sentence that the artist had felt went with the animal.
Doves remind us to be peaceful.
Tigers remind us to be courageous.
Lynxes remind us only to keep good secrets.
Kangaroos remind us about gratitude.
Cats remind us that we can learn from our mistakes.
Dogs remind us that we too can be good friends.
And turtles remind us that we all need to look after Mother Earth.
Our Yoga time focused on the many poses that are named after animals. As well as laughing at our attempts to be like eagles, seals, cats and other creatures, we admired the way animals have the capacity to move differently to us.
‘Old Turtle’ (by Douglas Wood) is the inspiring story of how wise Old Turtle listened to all the creatures of the Earth as they tried to describe God. In the end, there was the realisation that God was both like all the creatures and elements of the Earth, in equal measure, and also more than this. Old Turtles’s messages was that: God’s presence is everywhere and within every living thing. God’s presence is more tangible when all creatures can be in harmony with one another and the Earth.
Our art and craft activities continued our animal theme.
Children made collages …
Scenes of animals habitats…
Our end gathering began with the story ‘The Whale’s Song’ by (Dyan Sheldon & Gary Blythe). A personal favourite of mine, this story captures the incredible beauty of the creatures of the deep. The journey of the small girl reminds us of the somewhat magical reality of the connection between humans and creatures, if we are able to be still, patient and open-hearted in their presence.
Children entered this space through an imaginative visualisation, based on the story. After restfully imagining themselves doing what Lilly had done, children shared their experiences. For example:
“I imagined I gave a tiny piece of bread to a little fish that swam right up to me.”
“I imagined that I gave a dolphin a round stone and it played with it like a ball.”
“I imagined I gave a whale a very smooth stone and then it gave me a different shiny stone.”
“I imagined going under the water and sharing things with all the fish.”
We committed to paying attention, in the weeks ahead, to the creatures in our daily world and the opportunities we have to pause and observe – perhaps a bird in a tree, a family pet, a horse in a paddock, a kangaroo on a hillside… When we pause and notice, perhaps there is something to see and learn.
February 18th – Our Hopes for the Year
Welcome to a new year of Kaleidoscope! Our first gathering for 2018 was a little later this year. The school year is underway and the year has begun its routines. Today was an opportunity to reflect on how we felt our year had begun, particularly how school had been for everyone. Many children had done the ‘Hopes’ reflection that had been mailed out in January. This is the link: Turn your Worries into Hopes
We talked about how at the beginning of the year we may have felt nervous or worried or excited and enthusiastic. We would all have had some hopes – hopes for new friends or good teachers, hopes for interesting lessons and hopes that we would like school. Children shared their stories of a hope they had had for their year and what their experience had been in relation to this. We heard stories of making new friends and getting to know new teachers. There were tales of having to get the bus for the first time and find their way inn new, big places. Some children told of adventures at camps and other new year experiences.
We realised that there are many things we can be glad about – that each of us had something for which to be thankful. We acknowledged that we may also have things that we are still hoping work out for us this year.
As we lit our meditation candles, we remembered that all of our gratitudes and all of our hopes are held in our hearts for each other and held in God’s heart for us.
STONES to help us tell our story…
A collection of STONES cards (ST Luke’s Innovative Resources) depict stones with diverse emotions and expressions. Children chose a card that showed one of their feelings about how their year had been…
Responses ranged from excited, crazy and wild (!) to nervous, worried and tired. There were also many happy feelings expressed, comments of things that had worked out well and examples of times children felt calm. We acknowledged that there were many ways in which people expressed similar ideas and emotions to others – and that this reminds us that we are never alone in how we feel.
We looked at some clay stones that went with the cards and then children made their own delightful stones with faces and feelings…
HOPE is an Open Heart (by Lauren Thompson) is a beautiful children’s book about all the different meanings that the word HOPE holds. Hope can be what we feel when being hugged or doing simple things…it can be the feeling that comes in after sadness and anger have been expressed and tended. Hope is knowing we can be part of good changes and hope is always with us, like a tiny seedling growing.
To capture something of this for ourselves, children made Hope Vines, with flowers and leaves that represented the hopes they had for the year; both the hopes that had come true and the hopes they still held. (They were a little tricky to photograph!)
Thanks for the helping hand…
It is always lovely to acknowledge the people who have helped us. Hand shaped cards helped to create messages of appreciation for people to whom children wanted to say thanks for helping them have a happy start to the year…
Children had a delightful time using dot-painters to capture ideas, feelings, hopes or anything imaginative at all! These are only a few of the colourful works of art.
Gathering Circle Again
We returned to our Gathering Circle to show each other our lovely creations.
We also shared the story of ‘Little One’ (by Jo Weaver), a wonderfully told story of the bravery of a small bear. With beautiful black & white illustrations, it evoked lovely ideas of venturing into the world to participate well, whilst knowing we were cared for.
Children shared an example of a time they had been brave. For many it was the recent venture back to school or to new schools; for others it was going into a cave or a canyon or up ropes or down cliffs! And there were the poignant tales of small braveries that also really matter – like including a new person in our friendship group or greeting someone new to our school or coming to Kaleidoscope for the very first time.
And we celebrate all such bravery!